The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and the director general of its English Program, Ravida Din (pictured, left), have parted ways, and former NFB chair Tom Perlmutter (right) is no longer working with the organization in an advisory role, realscreen has learned.
Claude Joli-Cœur – who is currently serving as interim government film commissioner following Perlmutter’s departure at the end of last year – issued two short internal memos to all NFB staff yesterday afternoon (February 26), announcing the exits but offering no further explanation.
Both have been obtained by realscreen. In the first memo, Joli-Cœur wrote: “I am announcing the appointment of Michelle Van Beusekom to the position of interim director general of the English Program, effective immediately. She replaces Ravida Din, who is no longer an NFB employee.
“The selection process to fill this position will be established in the near future. I know Michelle can rely on your full support in this role.”
In the second memo, sent 40 minutes later, Joli-Cœur stated: “I am announcing that, as of today, Tom Perlmutter’s mandate as a strategic advisor to the NFB has ended.”
When contacted by realscreen, an NFB spokesperson would only confirm that Din and Perlmutter “are no longer working for the NFB” and added: “We will not comment publicly on human resources matters.”
The news comes after Perlmutter announced in December that he would be stepping down as government film commissioner and chair of the NFB at the end of 2013, to “devote himself to thinking and writing about the long-term issues affecting the arts and public cultural organizations.”
The news surprised many, as his term as chair was not due to end until 2017. The NFB said at the time, however, that Perlmutter would stay on as a strategic advisor with a focus on “the future of public space, the changing dynamics of creation, and new financial opportunities anchored in the NFB’s mandate and its commitment to innovation.”
That role has now ended, after two months.
Din, meanwhile, took over as DG of the NFB’s English Program in February last year, replacing Cindy Witten. She had been with the organization since 2007, serving as an executive producer and a producer prior to her promotion.
Her departure draws to a close seven years with the Canadian public film and audiovisual content agency.
With the directors-general being among the most powerful figures at the organization, roughly one third of the NFB’s senior management has left the organization over the last 18 months.
In addition to Perlmutter and Din, other departures have included Witten, director general of English production, who left in 2012 before her term was up; Silva Basmajian, exec producer for the Ontario region, who stepped down last July; and Monique Simard in Montreal, who departed as director general of the French Program.
The government agency has also suffered through cuts to its budget, as has the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Telefilm Canada, resulting in initiatives such as the Filmmaker Assistance Program being reduced in scope, job cuts and closures of cinemas and offices in Toronto and Montreal.
Regarding the personnel changes, the NFB spokesperson said that top tier departures were normal for a healthy organization.
“The NFB is doing very well – we have more than 400 people who are working for us, and we have a strong strategic vision for the future,” the spokesperson said. “It’s normal that organizations go through cycles – it’s the nature of a good organization to have new talent coming on board.”
Regarding the exits of Witten, Basmajian and Simard, the spokesperson added: “The last strategic plan was completed in 2013 and now we have a new one. It’s normal that people, at this stage, ask themselves, ‘Should I stay or should I not?’
“We will have a new executive director in Toronto very soon and we will have a new executive director in Vancouver. It’s healthy for an organization to have this kind of movement – it’s not stagnant, it’s living.”
Din and Perlmutter could not be reached for comment.